7 Ways Technology Is Making Us Lonelier

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1. You can talk to someone offline
You want to talk to someone: you open a chat, and start typing to a recipient who is obviously not hooked onto the Internet at that moment. There is almost no reality equivalent - possibly writing a letter, and having it replied after a few hours. It's possible with technology. You probably need that human touch at the point of contact, but you just don't get it - after a few hours, you lose the mood already.

2. We hide behind "appearing offline"
An option available since the Windows Chat Messenger days, this anti-social status allows you to select who you want to talk to and conveniently ignore the rest. It's like walking into a party with your invisibility cloak and you just wander right past your friends and head straight to the only people you want to talk to. If anybody talks to you, you can always pretend you are not there. The most convenient invention for introverts. Yet when we selectively socialize, we disconnect from the people that we used to contact. They fall away because we chose to hide.


3. We know people by the impressions they build
Everyone smiles in photos; nobody uploads a photo album of them crying over a heartbreak. They post status updates of their vacations, luxurious buffets, family gatherings. They share posts about cats, love, kindness, charity and politics. But what are they really like? The selective presentation on social media has rendered us too lazy to really get to know friends anymore. Oh - she has tons of clothes (but she could be slogging 25 hours a week on her part-time job), he actively gyms and lift weights (but he could be suffering from body image issues), she parties every weekend at Zouk (but she could be yearning for a true romance). And so on. We assume we know them, even before we talk to them.

4. Shopping alone, online
What seemed to be a social activity is now reduced to a solo trip onto a website and clicking "Add to my basket" and "Check outs". We don't see human beings around anymore. We engage in our little private shopping experiences and we shut the world out. It's quite different from shopping alone in a mall where you still get to interact with... humans. Like the cashier at the counter, or the fellow shopper.

5. Our phones, our saviours. Or not?
Oh my god, Someone-You-Are-Trying-To-Avoid heading your way. Suddenly, Facebook newsfeed never got more interesting. Tap, tap, tap. Someone-You-Are-Trying-To-Avoid walks past. Phew. Aren't we all guilty (I can't be the only one)? Enters lift with awkward configuration of people. Don't talk to them, scrolls through Instagram. Tense situation at dinner tables - pick up your phones and I don't know, Whatsapp someone else - who could be doing the same.

6. Photo-taking
Cameras - "capturing the moment", "in the heart of the image", "Holidays are Kodak days". But sometimes we get so obsessed with taking the perfect photos, we forget about interacting with the people who are supposedly enjoying the moment with us. We forget to enjoy what's before us, we snap photos. Wonderful invention. I mean, it's fine to take a couple of pictures to help you remember what happened, but not at every single turn. Unless you have the memory span of a goldfish, then snap away.

7. Google for advice
We don't call friends up for recipes on how to bake that lava cake - we Google for Martha Stewart's recipes. Hardly any love advisor in your social circle that can beat the comments on threads. We don't need people to help us when we have Google. But the search for answers gets incredibly lonely sometimes.

We create much more connections, more interlinked with technology... but we feel much more alone. The basis of feeling less lonely is to interact with others more, quality face-to-face interaction rather than through another mode of medium. A medium that is lifeless, that doesn't allow you to see the facial expressions of the other or hear the tone of the voice. You can't reach out and touch the person. *Hugs* just don't cut it anymore. Emoticons can't convey much either. Technology will make us more isolated than before.



But what to do?

1. Technology detox
An important step to be implemented before it swallows you up entirely. Set time to check your emails, Instagram updates, Twitter updates. I don't mean every half an hour. Possibly just before going for meals, while on-the-go, on the toilet bowls... during alone time. Just not when you're talking to friends, on the dinner table, or when you are supposedly interacting with someone in flesh.

2. Give yourself alone time, not with the phone
My favourite function on my phone now is Flight Mode... irresistibly irresponsible and a perfect way to keep my battery lasting for an entire day, it provides barriers from checking into social media.

3. Be in the moment.
Revel in the moment of enjoyment, where you are and what that is around you. Don't let life whizz past you while you are on your smartphone. Time passes really quickly - I know that because I spend thirty minutes catching up on social media that has gone by during my sleep every morning (and before sleeping, too). Trying to cut down on that - fingers crossed that I'll do it in five in the near future. Who cares about what's in there anymore? It's just a habit, not a necessity.

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